A wonderful tropical plant –
Clear skies and blazing sun, drying winds and waves on the ocean are the perfect combination to damage your skin. Unless, of course, you have aloe vera plants nearby to protect you from the elements.
Known as the “doctor in pot,” this cactus-like plant with long green leaves filled with a transparent gel was brought from Africa to North America in the 16th century.
The British brought aloe vera to Barbados to protect their sailors from the long hours of working in the sun. Today, researchers are verifying the exceptional healing properties of aloe, most of which can be viewed online. After 30 years of growing aloe vera, here are 10 best ways to use Aloe Vera that have been discovered.
1. Soothes burns and heals wounds
Whether it’s sunburns, burns, cuts and leftover aloe, this is the best. Applied to wounds, aloe gel is a mild anesthetic, relieving itching, swelling and pain; it is also antibacterial and antifungal. It increases blood flow to injured areas and stimulates fibroblasts, the skin cells responsible for healing wounds.
2. Relieves intestinal problems
Aloe vera juice can be very effective in treating most digestive disorders. The juice helps detoxify the gut, neutralize stomach acidity, and relieve constipation and gastric ulcers.
3. Reduces arthritis swelling
Aloe applications can reduce the pain and swelling of arthritis, and drinking aloe juice also helps inhibit the autoimmune reaction associated with some forms of arthritis, in which the body attacks its own tissues.
4. Heals psoriatic lesions
Aloe is the best natural treatment for psoriasis and eczema. In most cases, the lesions are even healed with the help of aloe.
5. Gum infections
Washing your mouth with aloe juice several times a day can cure stubborn infections. Mix the fresh gel of a leaf without skin or water and gargle.
6. Eye irritations and injuries
Apply a slice of freshly cut aloe to the closed eye, then open the eyelid to coat it with aloe. It is a great treatment when you have a small particle stuck in one eye.
7. Strains and sprains
Aloe is a great treatment that can be applied immediately to cool, soothe, and reduce joint swelling. Mix the gel from a fresh leaf without water to make a poultice for the wound.
8. Pulmonary congestion
Aloe acts as a powerful expectorant when the lungs are congested. Mix the aloe gel with lemon juice and water and drink freely during the day.
9. Rashes and allergic skin reactions
In the tropics, these types of skin problems are common. Try aloe gel as a natural first aid treatment.
10. Lowering blood sugar levels
Aloe can be part of a successful diabetes treatment program. Aloe juice can be taken several times a day between meals to help heal the pancreas and liver.
I can’t imagine living in the tropics without my aloe plant friends. If you want to get started with aloe cultivation, it’s easy. You don’t even need a green thumb to grow aloe at home. Local nurseries across the country offer aloe vera plants, and you’ll often find a neighbor who will be kind enough to share a few young plants with you. Potted aloe pots only need sandy soil and watering once or twice a week.
Keep the plants in an area of the house where there is good morning sun with some partial shade. You can water them once a month with soluble organic fertilizer. I would suggest a family have half a dozen or more aloe plants adorning the house, so that you can harvest aloe leaves whenever you need them. Young aloe plants appear around mother plants and can be transplanted into separate pots to expand your collection.
To learn more about tropical gardening in Costa Rica, visit the New Dawn Educational Website
This article first appeared in the Tico Times in 2013